Hi! We’re Miles and Teresa Tuffli of I’m Birding Right Now. Last year, we began volunteering for the PWA’s bird surveys. It’s been so much fun that we decided to document them. Below is the first of these installments. We’ll keep you up to date with an in-the-field perspective from these monthly counts – check back here for future reports!
Tuesday, December 11, 2018 was the monthly bird survey at Shollenberger Park. As you know, the Petaluma Wetlands Alliance is “dedicated to the stewardship, restoration, and expansion of publicly accessible wetlands and associated wildlife habitats.” Its monthly bird survey (alternating each month between Shollenberger Park and Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility) is just one of the many ways the PWA fulfills its mission statement. Tracking the number of bird species (as well as numbers of individuals within each species) provides valuable data that directly reflects the health of the wetlands habitat.
When we arrived just before sunrise on Tuesday we were greeted by a chill in the air, heavy fog, and the sound of hundreds of Red-winged Blackbirds waking up in the reeds.
Shollenberger is a great place to study White-tailed Kites. We tallied 17 throughout the day. Check out the different shapes a White-tailed Kite can display in flight. Have you ever noticed the gray central tail feathers on its otherwise white tail? We hadn’t before!
The marshy habitats of Shollenberger are also a great place to look and listen for various rails.
We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a quick little bird quiz… Can you tell what bird this is just from its shadow? See the end of this post for the answer!
Though the fog made it difficult to make out much more than duck silhouettes, we still heard Green-winged Teals and American Wigeons vocalizing.
An hour or two into the morning, it looked as if the fog might burn off.
The lifting fog provided nice light for a flock of Bushtits that blew through.
We spotted a Striped Skunk!
This goofy Rock Pigeon was as surprised as anyone that the sun finally came out.
A Ruby-crowned Kinglet posed briefly for us. What a treat – these guys never sit still!
We caught this Song Sparrow red-handed… or rather, “red-beaked”!
Answer to Bird Quiz: So who was the caster of that shadow from earlier in the post?
It was a Snowy Egret! Did you guess correctly? You can really see why its nickname is “Golden Slippers”!
Contributing to the Petaluma Wetlands Alliance in this way brings us great satisfaction. Not only do we appreciate helping an organization dedicated to stewardship of our local wetlands, but it’s always a pleasure to share a day of birding with other nature-loving members of our community.
When it was all said and done, the grand total for this December 2018 survey ended up at 63 species. If you have any questions about this particular count or if you’re interested in participating in future counts, please contact the coordinator/compiler for these surveys, Len Nelson, at email@example.com.